Moving abroad to live overseas can be pretty overwhelming. Packing up your whole life into suitcases and leaving all you know behind is certainly only for the brave. But living a life of courage instead of comfort reaps its rewards. Nothing ventured, nothing gained – right? Living overseas in Vancouver has been an incredible experience for me, and it certainly has its perks. I vividly remember the range of emotions: anxiety, stress, excitement, and eventually relief. As a result, I’m sharing my top tips for anyone doing the same, so here’s my checklist for moving abroad.
Checklist for moving abroad: 6+ months ahead
Look for work
In can take a while to find a suitable role, so I’d highly advise looking as much in advance as you possibly can. Try making connections through LinkedIn, and scour the internet for vacancies that you’re looking for. If you’re able to, visiting your future home before the move is extremely helpful for meeting employers for coffee. This way, you can set up interviews in advance and actually get in front of people. I was lucky enough to interview in London before moving to Vancouver. Finding work beforehand certainly takes the pressure off, but it isn’t possible for everyone. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who can transfer with your current role. Either way, ensure your cover letter and resume are in great condition for your arrival. Also make sure to carry out as much advance preparation as you can.
Get visas and passports ready
If you don’t have the correct documentation in place, your moving abroad ambitions are a non-starter! Check the website of your destination to ensure you meet all entry requirements. Obtain any visas that may be required. It’s worth speaking to an official too to make sure all of your documents are correct, and that there’s nothing else you need. This way, you’ll guarantee no nasty surprises at the border. Ensure your passport has sufficient validation before expiry also, to make things as straightforward as possible when you’re away. It’s also worth making copies of important documents just in case you should lose any while abroad.
Begin considering where you’re going to stay when you move abroad. Maybe you have friends or family that you can stay with initially. This is excellent as it enables you to discover the areas in which you’d like to move. If not, AirBnb is a great short-term stay option, as is finding furnished accommodation providers. Do your research into price ranges, and look into where you’d like to live so that it’s easier to find after your move. If you can, line up some viewing for your first few weeks in your new country to take the pressure off and avoid a last minute hunt. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to people in expat groups or forums to get their advice on good neighbourhoods to live. You never know who you may meet this way!
Book your flight
Once the wheels are in motion, it’s a good idea to book your flight. Having an official date makes your whole moving abroad experience easier to work towards. The earlier you can book your flights, the cheaper they will be also. When booking, consider how much check in luggage you’ll need, particularly if you’re not shipping any of your worldly possessions. It’s definitely worth pre-booking any extra baggage in as it’s only going to be more expensive turning up at the airport with them.
Make move-out plans
This is obviously one of the key things of moving, particularly if you own a house. If you need to sell, get listings and viewings arranged with a realtor. If you’re renting, you may need to consider letting your landlord know in advance, or finishing your lease early and moving elsewhere. The sooner you’re able to do any of these, the better and the less stressful. This also applies to important items like a car. You may want to consider your plans for selling or storing it somewhere.
Move your pet
If you’re planning on taking your pet with you, this will need to be researched early on. Different countries have different requirements, with many requiring periods of quarantine and multiple veterinary tests. You’ll also need to make sure you have all the appropriate documentation with you. It’s best to check the regulations of the country you’re moving to. Your pet may need to be microchipped as identification, as well as having shots for rabies, tapeworm treatment, and vaccinations. For your pet’s sake, check they’re able to deal with a stressful flight, so do check with a vet beforehand. Another point to consider is getting hold of any necessary medications for your pet in case you’re unable to find them overseas.
Checklist for moving abroad: 3+ months ahead
It’s pretty incredible how many services we are committed to, some of which it’s easy to forget about. For this reason, it’s a good idea to run through any bank statements and check for any regular payments. Jot these down and make a note to cancel any you’ll no longer require when living abroad. This includes anything from utility bills to insurance payments, to Spotify subscriptions. In turn, start making plans and do your research on replacements in the country you’re moving to.
Pack and ship belongings
It’s a good idea to begin making plans for packing. If you have a lot of stuff, in a house you own, for example, perhaps you can begin getting rid of any unnecessary items. Gradually whittling down key items is essential, as unfortunately you won’t be able to take everything you own with you. It’s a good experience, however, and forces you to be materialistic. Consider any big ticket items you’ll need to ship and begin getting crates and removal services organized. If you’re not shipping anything and intend on just packing suitcases, you’ll need to prepare too. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can fill a suitcase! Remember to be ruthless with what you own, and be selective. Choose only the most necessary items to take with you.
Arrange health insurance
This should be a top priority for you. Noone wants to get sick while uninsured in another country. Do your research into which requirements you need. In many countries, you may not be immediately eligible for state healthcare. Check the requirements for this and make interim plans, like unique bridging healthcare. It’s also a good idea to check for any immunizations you may require. Some require you to have them several months before you land in the country. It’s worthwhile having a check up at the doctors before you move abroad to ensure you’re medically ready.
Get your finances together
It’s so important to work out where you’ll be keeping your money before you move to your new country. This will also help keep any unexpected fees down later on in the line. Look into the banks in your new home overseas, and begin to think about the financial products you may need. Consider which money you may need kept at home, and how much to take with you. Equally, you’ll need to ensure you’re making stakeholders of any financial commitments you may have aware that you’re moving. This includes anyone from landlords, to student loans companies, to your mortgage broker. It’s often a good idea to meet with your bank to see which advice they can offer, in case there’s anything you’ve forgotten. I often find it helpful to research services like Transferwise for transferring money back home while abroad.
Join some local groups
It’s always good as part of your checklist for moving abroad to get involved in some expat forums and groups before you move away. You never know which handy tips and tricks you may learn long before you arrive. It’s also a great opportunity to be able to ask any questions you’re unsure about, from good neighbourhoods to the best places to work. You may find they also run regular meet ups in your new country, and you never know who you may meet by going along. At this stage, it’s all about networking as much as you can, so check out sites like MeetUp and some specific local forums.
Checklist for moving abroad: 1 month ahead
Plan a farewell party
It’s surprising how quickly your moving date will come around. Naturally, you’ll want to say a proper goodbye to any friends and loved ones, so make sure to get a date in the calendar plenty of time in advance. Be it a farewell party, a nice dinner or simply a few catch ups, don’t miss your chance. It’s a good excuse for a knees up and gets keeping in touch with everyone back home off to the best possible start. Also make sure you have all up to date addresses and email addresses to make it easier to keep in touch.
Obtain local currency
You may not know exactly how cash is used in your future home, but it’s always a good idea to take plenty of cash. Take enough cash with you to ensure there’s a health buffer should you not be able to open a bank account immediately. It’s also helpful for any big purchases you may need to make upon arrival, from apartment down payments to a new mobile phone. Always take plenty just in case.
Assess driving requirements
If you’re planning on driving in your new home, it’s worth looking into driving requirements to your checklist for moving abroad. Some countries may require you to take a test. In other countries, it’s simply a case of swapping over your native license for a new one, as in Canada’s relationship with the UK. It’s always a good idea to check out the requirements and what you need to do in advance. This way, you’re fully prepared, are aware of the challenges and costs, and may dodge some lengthy waits. You don’t want any nasty surprises when you arrive.
Sort your utilities
This is all about ensuring any providers are informed that you’re leaving the country. These include any telephone, internet, and utility companies, so that they can stop providing and you’re not presented with a hefty cheque after you’ve left. Make sure also to tell the council that you’re leaving the country – this way, you may even get some money back from your council tax, and it should avoid any issues later down the line. This rule also applies to any insurance companies you’re involved with, and it’s a good idea to check you’re fully covered before your big move.
Checklist for moving abroad: after arriving in your new home
Research phone plans
Of course, nobody enjoys being disconnected from the rest of the world, especially after making such a big move overseas. For that reason alone, make sure you research appropriate plans so that you know exactly what you need to get when you land. Consider how much data you may need, and whether you may require a plan that allows overseas calls. You may find that the sooner you’re able to get a local number, the sooner you’ll find yourself integrated into your new society.
Open bank accounts
Once again, a little preparation back home will help here. Researching financial products you need when moving abroad, and checking for the best rates will literally pay off. Make sure this is one of the first things you do when you arrive as you won’t want to be without an account for long. It’s a good idea to look into the requirements you’ll need for opening an account so you’re able to set one up then and there in the bank. Checking for credit card requirements is also important, as many require confirmation of employment before you’re allowed to have one.
Of course – everyone wants to make friends in their new home overseas! This is where reaching out on forums and expat groups is likely to come in handy. When you first move somewhere, it’s important to get chatting as much as you can and meet as many people as possible. Try to say ‘yes’ to as many things as you’re invited to, as you never know when the next opportunity may come around. Be sure to check out MeetUp events, go along, and see who turns up. Another good idea is checking out Bumble’s BFF feature, which allows you to connect and meet with other likeminded individuals within your specification. Go get ’em.
Set up utilities
Hopefully when cancelling your utilities back home, it crossed your mind to consider utilities in your new home. In cities, many apartments will come fully equipped with utilities included, so you may want to check for this if it’s something that appeals to you. If they’re needed, do you research into the various utility providers and how they work in your new country. Try to pre-arrange services like internet connection as soon as you can, because literally nobody wants to be disconnected for a prolonged period of time.
That’s my checklist for moving abroad! What has your experience been? Are there any other tips you’d provide for someone moving abroad?